For the 50+ Traveler

Have you ever considered taking a multigenerational trip? A multigenerational trip can be a time of bonding, experiencing new things, creating new memories, and family appreciation.

Before You Say No, Consider This

Before you close the book on a multigenerational trip, remember, this could be an opportunity for multiple generations to be part of a trip they might never get a chance to take otherwise.

It also might allow everyone to see one another in a new light. Johnny may realize that grandma is a fun-loving lady who is a hoot to be around, and grandpa may find that the seemingly sullen teen in the family is an intelligent young man and actually good with people.

Traveling with multiple generations can make for a fantastic time. Yes, you might be shifting gears, changing your approach to travel on your own terms, but taking a few things into consideration before and during a multigenerational trip can make all the difference.

Tips For Planning Multigenerational Trips

Here are a few tips to make traveling with multiple generations a success. I'm happy to share them with you.

1. Start Small

Start small and take a three-day trip before tackling a week or longer. If you find it is enjoyable, then start planning an extended vacation together. You want your group to look back on this vacation with fond memories. If at the end of a three-day trip, everyone is ready to go their separate ways, you know not to plan a 10-day vacation with the group.

2. Include All Generations In Planning

Plan activities that appeal to everyone or that everyone gets to weigh in on with their preferences. For instance, I am not a golf fan but have attended a golf match because the group wanted to. You need some give and take and should include activities that everyone can enjoy at some point in the vacation.

A multigenerational trip to Disney World.
Robin Smith

3. Select A Variety Of Activities

Ensure everyone has at least one activity that they love doing during the trip. No one wants to spend an entire vacation doing activities they hate, so don't expect this of anyone in the group.

4. Consider Sleep Schedules

An entire week of early morning activities will mean a person used to sleeping late will be irritable. Likewise, a person who typically gets up early may be bored to tears if they have to wait till noon every day to get started. Alternate plans and schedules so everyone is happy. Also, suggest alternative activities for those with different sleep schedules. Perhaps the night owls can play a game or watch a movie together late into the night while others are sleeping. The early birds can go for a walk or read a book while others are still sleeping the next morning.

5. Schedule Downtime

Don't plan back-to-back activities with no time to relax. When people are exhausted, they get grouchy. All generations will appreciate a little downtime, so be sure to plan for it and let everyone know when it’s penciled in.

6. Consider Everyone’s Interests

If there is something someone especially likes to do and it is available in the area you are visiting, then be sure to include it in the planning, especially when picking accommodations. An example: Teens who love tennis will appreciate staying in places that either have tennis facilities or are near tennis courts. Grandfather, who looks forward to a round of golf in the morning, will enjoy being near the golf course.

7. Plan For Alternate Activities

If you’re heading to the beach or other destination that is predominately outdoors and you wind up with a week of rain, what will you do? Research some alternate activities. Shopping, a game night, a movie, a visit to a science center, a concert, indoor paintball, a light show -- all of these are good options. (You can even put others in charge of researching what all there is to do in the area in advance.)

A multigenerational trip to Disney World.
Robin Smith

8. Determine Finances

Who is paying for what? Financial arrangements should be determined before reservations are secured. Will expenses be divided evenly, or is one person footing the bill? Is everyone kicking in a certain amount so all costs can be paid from the kitty, or is the group dividing the price of the rental unit and then paying for other expenses individually?

There are a variety of ways to handle costs, but make sure everyone knows in advance about the finances so they are confident they can afford the trip.

9. Plan Menus In Advance

If you’ll be cooking during the trip, let everyone help plan the menus. Try to find meals that the majority of people enjoy or at least can tolerate. Include everyone in the snack discussion as well. What snacks do they like? Will one person purchase them, or is everyone responsible for bringing their own?

10. Consider Sleeping Arrangements

Plan for each person to have a bed. It is even better if each person or couple has their own room. If you know someone snores excessively, it’s probably not a good idea to put them in the same room with a light sleeper.

11. Discuss Activities In Advance

Share information about anticipated activities in advance so everyone knows what clothes and shoes they will need for the trip. Grandma, who dresses to the nines and wears heels everywhere, may not pack hiking shoes or water shoes unless she knows she’ll need them in advance. It also helps all generations to know what to expect and gives them something to look forward to.

12. Consider Physical Limitations

If anyone in your multigenerational travel group has physical limitations, make sure everyone in the group is aware and plan activities accordingly.

It doesn't mean the rest of the group cannot do strenuous activities. It just means a plan needs to be in place to handle the situation. If someone shouldn't be alone, make sure a plan is in place to share the responsibility of keeping that person company.

If you are at an amusement park with someone who doesn't like fast rides, then take turns staying with them while others ride. If someone moves much slower than others, then select meeting points throughout the day for the group to come back together, and where family members can begin and end their turns as that person’s companion.

A multigenerational trip to Disney World.
Robin Smith

13. Set Clear Expectations

Your expectations of the trip can influence others. Know that everyone going on this trip may have different expectations. Some may be expecting to do their own thing part of the time while others may think they will be with the group the entire time. Allowing everyone to be in on the planning helps with this, and your attitude also plays a part.

If you have certain expectations, be sure to voice them from the start. An example would be planning to come back together for an evening meal as a group every night, regardless of what everyone does during the day.

If there are certain activities you want to be sure everyone participates in, let everyone know in advance. For example, Thursday, we have tickets to a show, and everyone needs to be ready to leave by 5 p.m.

If renting a condo or house, make sure everyone knows what chores they will need to help complete, such as emptying the trash, cooking a meal, doing dishes, taking care of laundry, and so on. If staying in a hotel or on a cruise, no one will have chores, including you!

Don't expect everyone to unplug. While this might be nice, unless everyone is on board in advance, don't expect this. You can model the behavior and request unplugged meals. Expecting teens or even grandparents to turn all electronics off for a week is unrealistic. (Unless you go to the mountains and have no access!)

14. Don’t Force Togetherness

Don't expect everyone to be together in one happy group the entire trip. There will be times when the group will split to do things on their own or as smaller groups. When the group divides and then comes back together, they can discuss what they did, which makes the conversation more exciting, and everyone will be happier for it.

15. Give Everyone Privacy

Everyone needs to have a place to go to be away from others. If someone says they want to go for a walk alone, as long as it is safe, allow them to do so. Maybe they desire to just go sit on the beach alone or read a book in their room. They aren't necessarily mad at anyone or being antisocial; they just need some alone time. It is okay. Not everyone thrives in a group experience, and even if they enjoy it, if they are used to living alone or with significantly fewer people, they might just need some space.

16. Try New Things

Be open to trying new things. Play a video game, eat new food, or discuss a topic of interest to another generation. You might learn something new or find a new favorite!

17. Remember To Relax

Once you get to your destination and get settled, relax and enjoy each other's company. You never know how many opportunities you will get to enjoy such a trip. It may be a once-in-a-lifetime thing. If things don't turn out exactly the way you envisioned, it isn't the end of the world. You never know -- it might be even better. Relax and enjoy the vacation.

Following these tips will help you plan and enjoy a wonderful multigenerational trip that will leave everyone with great memories.

Need inspiration? Read up on great destinations and activities for family vacations here.